LONDON – Five thoughts on the Wimbledon 2015 men's semifinals results, where Novak Djokovic defeated Richard Gasquet and Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray in the second match.
• Roger Federer has said it openly: he tailors his year for Wimbledon. He knows what we all know: if he is going to win an 18th major singles title, it is most likely to come at Wimbledon. We should all peak like this. In a dazzling display—tennis at its most elevated—Federer handled Andy Murray in a semifinal that eclipsed the hype, 7–5. 7–5, 6–4. Empty out the cliché drawer: this was a master class, a command performance; a virtuous performance. The notebook scrawl from this includes a string of hyperbole, peaking with an epic 14-minute game in the second set that is being swaddled in bubble wrap and shipped to a museum. Federer, weeks from turning 34, goes for his eighth Wimbledon title on Sunday. If he can come close to sustaining this level, he has an excellent shot.
• It’s official: Novak Djokovic will not be playing a role in a sequel of “The Hangover.” After his loss in the French Open final, one of the main pre-Wimbledon storylines revolved around whether Djokovic would be paralyzed by lingering disappointment. Not so much. He reached another Wimbledon final today, beating Richard Gasquet, 7–6, 6–4, 6–4 in a match that never felt that close. This was classic Djokovic, his career in miniature. Despite his status as the top seed and defending champion, his match felt like a warmup act before the main event. Djokovic didn’t dazzle but won with solid play and peerless returning. He was far from his best. And it didn’t much matter. And now he is three sets from another title.
• Andy Murray has won Wimbledon; won an Olympic gold and won an additional Slam. First ballot Hall of Famer. Recovered from injury to get back to the highest level. Checks all the boxes. But today Murray didn’t play badly; and, still, it was almost as though he played the role of unwitting participant in a magic act. Federer not only had an answer for everything Murray attempted; he demanded exceptional tennis from Murray just to win. And he punished that second serve, clearly the weak spot in Murray’s game.
After getting broken deep in both sets, Murray was thoroughly—and understandably—demoralized. There’s no shame in losing to Fedrerer, especially on grass. But this one has to sting.
• You sensed that Richard Gasquet played his Wimbledon final on Wednesday when he beat Stan Wawrinka in five sets to reach the semis. The match marked the biggest win of his career and, right then and there, the tournament surpassed his expectations. Today, he played the role of happy-to-be-here semifinalist. He showed off his skills and underrated athleticism; but never really mounted a challenge or forced Djokovic to play his best. There was a sense that he had to win the first set to have a chance. He didn't and he didn’t. It was a nice event for the Frenchman, but had Wawrinka won that quarterfinal match—giving us top four seeds in the semis—you have to think Thursday’s match would have been closer and more textured.
• The action on Centre Court was akin to a championship fight in Vegas. The Royal Box was like an A-list Hollywood Squares board: Sachin Tendulkar, Bjorn Borg, Anna Wintour, Thierry Henry, Chiwetel Ejiofor. There was plenty of entertaining action on the grounds, though. Reilly Opelka, the 6’10” Michigander, reached the boys’ final, beating Taylor Fritz in an entertaining (and bizarre) semifinal, 6–3, 7–6 (13). (In the second set breaker, Opelka won the first five points. Fritz then won the next six. Opelka finally took it, 15-13.) He will play Mikael Ymer of Sweden in the final. Two Russians will play in the girls final, Sofya Zhuk and Anna Blinkova. Martina Hingis was the best player on the court as she and Sania Mirza reached the women’s doubles final. (Hingis is also still in the mixed doubles with Leander Paes.)